- The Washington Times - Friday, January 25, 2002

It's hard to deny stealing a cell phone when it rings while a police officer is questioning you.
That's what happened to John Bernard Smith, 36, who had accompanied Trixie Denise Leonard, 35, to the Charles County Sheriff's Office, where she surrendered for failing to appear for a traffic citation, said spokeswoman Nicole Kelley.
While there, Mr. Smith pilfered a cell phone from a desk in the lobby, police said.
That was his first mistake.
The cell phone belonged to a 66-year-old retired police officer, who mistakenly left the phone in the lobby when he was called inside for his appointment.
An office clerk later remembered that Mr. Smith got up and leaned back against the desk with his hands behind him, she said.
"He was kind of fumbling behind his back," Mrs. Kelley said.
When Miss Leonard, who later was released on personal recognizance, left for the detention center with an officer, Mr. Smith also left, driving her car there, Mrs. Kelley said.
Meanwhile, the retired police officer returned to the lobby and recalled leaving his cell phone there. When he discovered it was missing, he reported it. The clerk mentioned that Mr. Smith had been near the desk and was acting strangely.
Sgt. R. Foster went to the detention center, where Mr. Smith had exited the car, leaving the door open.
The sergeant had asked the communications office to call the number of the missing cell phone. He heard a phone ringing in the glove compartment of Mr. Smith's car, but Mr. Smith claimed the ringing was an alarm, police said.
That was his second mistake.
The sergeant didn't believe him. When the glove compartment was opened, it revealed a cell phone, and the officer recognized the number from the communications office on the phone's caller-ID display.
Mr. Smith was charged with a misdemeanor-theft count while in the Charles County Detention Center parking lot. He was held on $750 bond and could get a maximum penalty of a $500 fine or 18 months in jail, or both.

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